Adding challenge to a climb?
Anyone have good suggestions for making climbs more challenging? I'm finding it difficult to make a sustainable trail yet still have challenging climbs. Here in mid-Michigan we have short rolling hills with varying degrees of steepness. Sideslope construction results in slightly longer climbs, but because the grade is so low it results in very easy climbing. It we were to push the trail steeper the trail would erode quickly. I was thinking about collect rocks from the area and adding them to the tread or finding some other way to roughen the surface making the climbs a bit more challenging. Any suggestions?
-Step ups using a rock or log.
-Keep it narrow.
-Change the slope. You need to do this anyhow to incorporate grade reversals.
-Roots and rocks have a way of magically appearing all by themselves!
We have plenty of grade reversals. I'm thinking I may add a rock/log step up near the top of the steepest grade sections and perhaps some rock below the step up (wish I had more rock). I'm really hoping with more riding roots will be exposed.
The whole trail is new this year, so maybe I should just give it more time to ride in and get feed back from the local riders. It just seems really easy to me right now, but then again I'm a climbing beast .
A great way to make a climb challenging is definitely adding steps.
IMBA came into our park (Wissahcikon Valley in Philly) and worked on a Demostration trail last year and added a great step section - in fact, they are known by riders as just "The Steps."
I am not the best climber so getting up these is real difficult for me (I still walk a lot of it), but I have rode with guys with 42 pound DH bikes who can climb these steps. they are challenging to climb and fun to ride down.
Instead of using the rocks to make steps, you can make a steep grade, that is relatively flat. If the rocks have a flat surface you can position them to make a bombproof tread that won't be effected by skidding.
It's takes more digging and using other rocks to anchor it into place so that the flat surface you want will be up top for the tread. If you see the rocks i used for this feature for instance many of them are not just sat down and luckily have the flat side for the tread. Most all of them are placed and filled with other rock and crushed rock in order to stay in that position.
You can use dirt for this as well, just as long as the rock get's placed and doesn't move it will last pretty much last a lifetime.
Here is something similar to what i would be talking about but instead of having a more natural undulation, you would place them to be flat and uniform.
i haven't really tried it yet, but i'm pretty sure i could climb this... Now THAT'S a challenging climb.
But anyways, i complain about rockwork, but if you get good at it, it's a trailbuilding technique that lasts forever. The North Shore in B.C. is full of top notch rock work, otherwise with all that steep stuff and heavy traffic the mountain would be a rutted mess.
Builder of Trails
If you do decide to install steps using logs or rocks, you should armor the ground below them for a bike length or more to preclude any erosion from loosened soil and falling water.
Considering the nature of the trail and its users is important when you want to add expert challenges.
Is this a multi-user trail? Hikers and equestians will not be happy with constructed obstacles unless they are on an alternate line. If it is a mtn-bike-only trail this shouldn't be a problem.
Is this an experts-only mountain bike trail? Are there lots of other trails for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers, so this trail will not get beginner/intermediate traffic? My observation is that experts complain about sustainable trails but sustainable trails get 10-100 times the traffic of even the best expert trails. If this trail has to serve all levels of mtn bike riders, again consider adding the obstacles on an alternate line.
How do the land owners/land managers feel about adding constucted obstacles? Land managers often push back hard on constructed obstacles due to liability concerns. Someone crashing on a natural terrain is nature's fault while someone crashing on a constructed could be considered the land manager'f fault. Some land managers will allow constucted obstacles but only on experts-only trails that have signage to that effect. If you don't have land owner/manager approval, the expert obstacles will probably get torn out in the next cycle of trail maintenance.
The trail will be multi-use for hikers and bikes, but no horses. There are separate trails for the hikers, but they are also allowed on the bike trails. My feeling on the beginner/intermediate/advanced is I'm designing a moutain bike trail and if you can't ride it, hike it. I'm only talking a short section of trail. What I'm looking to do is make riders work a little harder to get to the top. I'm not really looking to add any expert features. Our climbs in this area are so short that when you do not make them steep they hardly make you work. I also want the trail to be sustainable so I will not make them too steep causing erosion. So far our land manager has been O.K. with anything we have constructed and will continue to be if it is constructed well.
Thanks for all the input guys. I'm thinking of a series of small steps with additional armoring may do the trick. Otherwise, I may have to designate the trail as single speed only